True Detective’s fifth episode, “The Secret Fate of All Life,” offers a glimpse back into 1995, when Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) helped Hart (Woody Harrelson) stage a crime scene, and to 2002, when Cohle dove back into the murder case of Dora Lange.

‘True Detective’ Recap

Cohle and Ginger are attending a biker meeting with Dewall and meth cook Reggie Ledoux (Charles Halford) as the episode opens. While the events unfold in 1995, 2012 Cohle is recounting what took place that night to detectives Gilbough (Michael Potts) and Papania (Tory Kittles). The narrative doesn’t corroborate the series of events that are shown unfolding.

Dewall senses that Cohle’s offer to buy the drugs is a set up, or something similarly sketchy. Whatever is it about Cohle, it makes him not want to make the deal. “I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes,” he tells him. “It’s corrosive like acid. You got a demon little man. There’s a shadow on you, son.”

With Hart, Cohle proceeds to follow Dewall into the woods. There, they discover a number of trailers – which were originally shown in True Detective’s third episode. When Cohle tells Hart to call it in, Hart realizes that Cohle is just waiting for him to leave so he can raid the operation solo and stays with him.

Hart Shoots Reggie Ledoux Dead

Carefully sidestepping booby traps, Cohle and Hart approach the trailers. Without incident, they’re able to cuff Reggie. When Dewall appears, Cohle, with his gun raised, commands him to freeze. Hart, meanwhile, has been taking a look around the various trailers. After finding two children – one dead and one just hanging on to life – he approaches Reggie and shoots him dead in the head. Dewall makes a run for it. Cohle fires at his back before he watches him blow up on one of his own explosive devises.

After the deaths of the two criminals, Cohle and Hart put their heads together to construct the story they’d offer at their ’95 inquest with police, and which they’re offering to the detectives now. Reggie and Dewall had fired first. To make it look as though a firefight had taken place, Cohle shoots up the surrounding woods with an assault rifle.

The story then jumps to 2002, the year when everything began crumbling apart for the detectives. During the interrogation of Guy Francis, who they suspected of committing a double murder, Francis begins talking to Cohle about the murder of Dora Lange. Francis claims to know who killed her, the yellow king. Francis’ claims make Hart and Cohle question whether or not Dora’s killer is still on the loose. Not long after, Francis commits suicide in prison.

Detectives Further Case Against Cohle

In 2012, Gilbough and Papania ask Hart about Cohle’s preoccupation with Billy Lee Tuttle. Cohle had connected Dora’s murder to that of Reanne Oliver, who went to an Academy run by the Tuttle ministries. Dora, as it happened, had gone to a church in which the preacher had been educated at a Tuttle university. The detectives seem to think that Cohle killed Tuttle a couple of years ago. Hart’s not having it.

Pushing Hart further, making their case against Cohle, the detectives throw a barrage of rhetorical questions at him. They suggest that Cohle used his own murders to give the appearance of having special powers of deduction. He was able to get the evidence, track down locations and victims, because he was the one who’d made the crime scene in the first place. During his own questioning, Cohle dares the cops to arrest him or tail him, before busting out of the station.

Back in 2002, Cohle had driven out to the abandoned Light of the Way Christian Academy, finding devil catchers like the ones at the sight of Dora’s murder.

True Detective airs Sundays on HBO at 9/8c.

– Chelsea Regan

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